June 2007

Your thesis advisor’s role it to guide you to the pearly gates of enlightened rationalism by giving you advice on how to make progress on whatever irrelevant topic you may be overspecializing in. So when you are stuck on something, you ask them, and they fill you in on the stuff that no one ever told you, but you are expected to know. You then say, “Aha, I see. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with me.” And your problem is solved and research continues. At least that’s how it works in theory. And as a theoretician I can tell you that theory does NOT always work. Just try applying Redfield theory to nuclear dynamics when electronic coherences are involved. As another example I give you my conversation with big boss man last week:

BBM: So how are things going?
Me: OK. I’ve almost got my eigenfunctions and eigenvalues determined, but I’m having a some normalization issues.
BBM: Hmm.
Me: Yeah..
BBM: Well all that I can tell you about normalization issues is, don’t have them.
Me: OK, thanks.

I’ve since gotten all of my wavefunctions normalized to the same value. It’s not 1, but whatever. It’s 0.313314 to be exact, which who knows where the heck that came from, but I’m going with it.

From the NYT:

“Pushing back against the Democratic-led Congress, President Bush vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have eased restraints on federally funded embryonic stem cell research.”

Let’s hear it for politicians’ infinite wisdom when it comes to science. Being in the current situation that I’m in, I am acutely aware of the lasting implications of legislators’ pen strokes. They push dollars around, and people’s lives (not theirs, though) are heavily impacted. Science has become an unneeded commodity in our current political climate. My advisor was awarded a Guggenheim a few years ago, and now there’s not a cent to be found. Not from the NIH, NSF, ACS, AIP, heck I’d even ask AA or AAA for money at this point. But the source of all of these organization’s funding (Uncle Sam) has deemed them “discretionary,” and has treated them as such. So as the war rages on, our sciences fall further behind, and my paycheck goes to the pentagon.

And now with W.’s latest blunder, he has single-handedly set the timeline for finding a cure for cancer back about a decade, while simultaneously vilifying geneticists and dissuading a generation of youths from scientific careers. Yesss. Man, he’s good. Four more years!?

W. has used his veto power three times while in the white house. Two vetoes limited funds available to scientists, and the other made an open ended affair of the Iraq war. It’s like a modern day reversal of Robin Hood. Someone must have had a really bad science teacher in high school.

The latest Democratic candidate debate was held yesterday in NH. One of the most profound quotes came from Joe Biden when he said, “You need 67 votes to end this war.” Chew on that for a second. All it takes is 67 people to end US involvement in this mess, to bring our citizens home, out of harm’s way, and stop killing innocent Iraqis. I can walk down the street and find that many people with the corresponding sentiment.

Hillary toed the line on every issue, as usual, trying not to let the vitriole eat them from the inside out. It’s great that she is trying to keep everyone together, but in doing so she sidesteps making unpopular decisions at every turn.

John Edwards stood out as a hero of the masses, or at least a champion of my own beliefs. On the war of terror he put it succinctly, “But what this global war on terror bumper sticker — political slogan, that’s all it is, it’s all it’s ever been — was intended to do was for George Bush to use it to justify everything he does. The ongoing war in Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, spying on Americans, torture, none of those things are okay. They are not the United States of America.” Nice. Then on the subject of health care, it is clear that he has the most feasible plan to insure the most people for the least amount of money (rolling back tax cuts for those who net >200K) among the three front runners. But Kucinich brought up a very important point. He noted that, “What Senator Clinton, Senator Edwards, Senator Obama are talking about, they’re talking about letting the insurance companies stay in charge. They’re talking about continuing a for-profit health care system.” And that is exactly why US health care is so decrepid. Evidently Kucinich and Conyers can fix it all with HR 676. I’ll have to give it a read.

Obama utterly falls flat on health care, letting his blue blood show through. He says, “Everybody who wants it can buy it and it’s affordable. If we have some gaps remaining, we will work on that.” Huh? Sounds a bit ‘let them eat cake-ish’ to me.

My overall impression is that all of the candidates are seriously out of touch with the realities of making less than $10 million a year.

oh, and Paris Hilton is a jail-bird.